Developing a Personal Schedule

Over the course of the past year, I’ve discovered that one of the most invaluable assets in my life is having a rhythm and routine to my days. When I lived for 6 months at the Zen Monastery, this process was done for me. While waking up at 4am and having your entire day scheduled down to 5 minute intervals initially sounds daunting, (and trust me it often is!) after some time I eventually surrendered to the schedule, finding an incredible freedom in the routine. I found myself full of energy, requiring much less sleep (6 hours a night), and found myself incredibly effective in my short personal breaks: often reading, writing or exercising.

Since departing from the monastery 3 months ago, I’m finding it terribly difficult to establish a personal rhythm.  Part of this has simply been due to the circumstances of the summer – travel, living in other peoples homes, constantly changing environments, etc.  While still in a temporary living situation in Boulder, my days are now much more my own. Ingrid will be joining me in a little over a week and we’ve had a number of discussions on how to best structure our days – creating a structure to allow us to both examine our paths as well as put energy towards creating a shared-vision together. We also of course want to create the space for spontaneity and fun. This all said, HOW do we actually do it??

My idea is to create a working schedule, as if I was actually in a paid job. This will be a weekly schedule, including various mornings at the Boulder Zen Center, Blogging, Exercise, Yoga, Non-profit commitments and personal time with Ingrid and friends. Once Ingrid arrives we plan to redefine our goals for the coming year using the Best Year Yet Workshop. Through this we’ll also include various activities and intellectual pursuits in our day-to-day.  I hope to eventually share this schedule in an effort to create more accountability for myself!

This very morning highlights the importance of a schedule. I sat down about 2 and a half hours ago to write this, and instead have found myself doing all kinds of irrelevant things on the Internet and around the house. For me, this clearly highlights the need to disconnect throughout the day to focus on things.  I’ve also found that it is extremely important to do the things most important to me first. If at 8am I decide to dive into the To-Do’s or tackle the more mundane technicalities of living, I find it extremely difficult to return to things like Yoga, writing or meditation. Therefore I’m going to experiment this next week with being disconnected before noon, engaging in my more creative and spiritual pursuits early in the day.

If you are reading this, and have also found yourself at various points in life with unstructured time, what did YOU do to be most effective??

One thought on “Developing a Personal Schedule

  1. Like the idea of a working schedule. I find when I don’t have one, I do meaningless things, and the days in fact speed up not slow down. For the next 2 months, you’ll have a new challenge that will contend with this structure though: a 15-month old! Keep your awareness (and patience) as you experience how such a little bowl of fun can derail your most diligent intentions. 😉

    There’s something to be said about goal-setting, schedule, and rhythm. In the past, I was all about goal-setting, but balked at the idea of a scheduled life. I viewed a “schedule” as the confines of modern society, and the suffocating realities that it can imply. What I’ve learned in the years since then is that a schedule actually is critical to goal-setting, not distracting. One simply needs to prioritize/schedule those goals/endeavors they’ve listed as part of their daily routine, and not fall into the trap of “just get through these next few weeks, then I’ll have time to dedicate to [insert goal here]”.

    And a final thought on goal-setting: Having followed the same Best Year Yet process, I’ve been both excited and ho-hum about some of the goals I’ve set myself these past few years. What I’ve now realized though is that just as important as reaching those individual goals, was the undocumented goal of actually goal-setting, prioritizing the personal ambitions on my list, and restructuring my life in order to achieve them. It’s this last part (“restructuring my life”) that while not listed explicitly, is undoubtedly the single most important goal I’ve achieved (and want to continually refine) these past few years. It’s what allows for all our goals to occur…a foundation in a sense.

    Good luck finding your new, US-based foundation…whether its through a new working schedule or just your uncanny ability to lead a measured lifestyle 😉

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